wave heights for surfing

This list measures surfable wave face heights from the base to the lip. These are “standard” Non-Hawaiian wave heights. Hawaiians measure wave heights from the back of the wave, so their heights are typically about half that of the front face. A wave with a 9-foot face might be called a 3- to 4-foot wave in Hawaii.

wave height
in feet
distance from base to lip of wave
measured on front of wave
1 – 2 ankle to knee high
1 – 3 ankle to waist high
2 – 3 knee to waist high
2 – 3+ knee to chest high
2 – 4 knee to shoulder high
3 – 4 ft. waist to chest high
3 – 4 ft. waist to shoulder high
3 – 5 ft. waist to head high
4 – 5 ft. shoulder to head high
4 – 6 ft. shoulder high to 1 foot overhead
4 – 7 ft. shoulder high to 2 feet overhead
5 – 7 ft. head high to 2 feet overhead
5 – 8 ft. head high to 3 feet overhead
6 – 8 ft. head high+ to 3 feet overhead
6 – 10 ft. head high+ to double overhead
8 – 10 ft. 3 feet overhead to double overhead
8 – 12 ft. 3 feet overhead to double overhead+
10 – 15 ft. 2 to 3 times overhead
12 – 15 ft. triple overhead
15 – 18 ft. triple overhead+
15 – 20 ft. 3 to 4 times overhead
18 – 20 ft. 4 times overhead
20 – 25 ft. 4 to 5 times overhead
25 – 30 ft. 5 to 6 times overhead
30 – 35 ft. 6 to 7 times overhead
30 – 40 ft. 6 to 8 times overhead
35 – 40 ft. 7 to 8 times overhead
35 – 50 ft. 7 to 10 times overhead

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